10 Things I Didn’t Put in My Medical Writer Resume

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Preparing an effective resume is very important when you apply for jobs. Each one has to really get at what the recruiters or your future coworkers and managers are looking for.

But that doesn’t mean you throw everything at the wall to see what sticks.

There are definitely some things that you’d most likely want to leave out of your resume – obvious, and not so obvious. Some of these are standard, but worth telling you about, and others may surprise you!

Although everything in this post is true, this is just for fun. I’m not saying that if you want to be a medical writer, you have to leave these things out of your resume. I’m not saying that I know what I’m talking about. I’m not saying these are all bad (well, some of them are definitely bad).

I’m just talking about myself here, and what worked for me (as with all of my blog posts).

Do I think there are truths and helpful concepts in each of these points below? Sure, I always want to be helpful and I do think I’m not the only one leaving this stuff off of my resumes.

With that disclaimer out of the way, here are 5 things I left out of my medical writer resume.

1. My grad school GPA.

Not only did I put my Education section at the bottom of my resume, I didn’t even include my grad school GPA. I think it was a 3.9/4.0 but I just didn’t want to give off the “academic” impression that I cared about that stuff anymore. I genuinely didn’t.

And, I wanted to fully optimize my resume so that the job-relevant skills were as obvious to the recruiter as possible, at the top, where they could see it quickly.

2. My address.

Yeah no, I definitely did not put my full address on my resume. I only put my city and state.

3. Fellowships and awards.

I received a training grant during my time as a grad student as well as an award or two for research, but I didn’t include any of that stuff on my resume (as you can see from my resume template and tips blog post).

For the medical writing jobs I was applying for, none of that stuff – the fellowships and the awards – really represented anything super relevant to the job description and practical that the recruiters were looking for.

A resume isn’t a CV. It’s not an exhaustive list of everything you’re proud about having ever done in your life.

Some things are simply not going to be relevant for every job you apply for, and for the kinds of medical writing jobs I was going for, fellowships and awards were definitely irrelevant.

4. Conferences, presentations and posters.

I went to a really cool conference for my field 3 times during my Ph.D. and made a poster each time, did a talk at a regional conference, and also made a poster or two outside of those opportunities for on-campus poster events. I didn’t mention ANY of those on my resume.

I know this might be a bit weird to some people.

What about demonstrating presentation abilities? What about demonstrating science COMMUNICATION?

Once again, this is just MY experience, and I’m not telling you to leave any of these things off of your resumes.

I genuinely didn’t even think about including a list of my conferences, presentations, and posters in my resume because I didn’t think they were relevant to the types of medical writing jobs I was applying for.

I mention this a lot in my blog posts, but I mentioned TUTORING and not my conferences, posters, and presentations. I mentioned tutoring because it was a more relevant science communication and education experience to include for the types of jobs I wanted.

The medical writing work I wanted to do focused on the public, patients, and sometimes healthcare workers, and it’s to prepare educational or promotional materials related to drugs and diseases.

So overall, my abilities (educational mindset, what looks good to learners, explaining medical and scientific concepts SIMPLY) demonstrated in tutoring kids from ages 12-20 in various science topics and math were a lot more relevant to the jobs I was interviewing for than the scientific posters I made and conference talks I did in grad school.

5. Publications.

I don’t have a first-author publication.

I couldn’t care less at this point.

I discuss this in more detail in this blog post if you’re interested in how that all happened! I Voluntarily Gave Up Authorship on My Ph.D. Paper and I’ve Never Felt More Free

I mentioned papers in interviews for sure, because I helped prepare some papers with my labmates and I was 2nd-author and so on in some papers, but I didn’t list any of them in my resume.

ONCE AGAIN, not saying you need to leave your papers out. Some medical writing jobs are more academic-writing oriented. Some hiring managers would want to see papers. It’s totally job-specific.

I personally wanted to work on products that went as far away from academic writing as possible.

6. Fudged up qualifications and exaggerations.

One thing I learned during my 3 years or so of tutoring, interacting with client parents, and working with tutoring managers was the importance of being honest about my abilities.

I know it sounds obvious, but I learned from experience that fudging your abilities is NOT WORTH IT.

I’ve had embarrassing moments in my tutoring job where I said I could tutor precalc and then started with the student and couldn’t do it. I had to go to the manager to fix the situation and get switched off with another tutor. This was also true for labwork and my time as a grad student. Being honest about what I knew always helped me and those around me work efficiently.

So when it came to my resume, I was super careful about this and never exaggerated being able to do something or knowing something.

It makes you come across really well, like in a reliable and honest way, in my opinion.

7. Anything that’s illegal for them to ask about.

If you’re in the U.S., there are certain things that job interviewers/companies are NOT allowed to ask you about.

Here’s a brief list (I’m not a lawyer, look up information on more legit sites if you’re more interested in this topic. Bullet points taken from: https://zety.com/blog/illegal-interview-questions, which has REALLY good examples of seemingly innocuous questions that try to pry at the below information)

  • Age or genetic information
  • Birthplace, country of origin or citizenship
  • Disability
  • Gender, sex or sexual orientation
  • Marital status, family, or pregnancy
  • Race, color, or ethnicity
  • Religion

So, I didn’t mention anything along those lines in my resume. There’s no need to and no space to, to be honest.

I made sure everything I mentioned tied back to the job listing and was something I was confident that the recruiter or current employees would see as relevant and would want to interview me about.

8. Hobbies and interests.

Yeah no, keep it 100% professional. I absolutely did not DARE to include “I love doing my nails” or “I love taking care of my monstera” on my resume.

What DID help me was to have one thing prepared for interviews if and when they asked about something I like to do outside of work, just to get to know me a bit more. Once you’re at the interview stage, it’s important to show you’re a human being outside of work, and have an easygoing side.

My prepped hobby outside of work was gardening!

I associated that response with traits that would be at least tangentially useful for the jobs I wanted to apply for. I talked about being resourceful and learning how to do things the right way, being patient, troubleshooting, enjoying the rewards of my hard work and being able to share them with others, etc.

Stuff to make me look good!

I have an entire blog post with my interview tips, actual questions I asked THEM, my actual interview question RESPONSES, and more, if you’d like to learn more about that aspect of the job application process: Ph.D. to Industry Job Interview Tips & Advice

9. References.

I didn’t include any contact information for any references on my resume.

I did this because it’s generally not something that people include in their resumes right off the bat, and because I wanted to have time to let my references know and have some control over that aspect of the job application process.

My current company didn’t ask for references.

For peoples’ insights on references and papers required for non-ac jobs, I did a super informal survey and compiled my results in this Tweet if you want to read more (and see the original responses):

10. Irrelevant technical and scientific stuff, even if I was really proud of it.

I didn’t include the fact that I performed single-cell RNA sequencing.

I didn’t include the fact I had an intermediate ability using R.

Or that I knew what FASTQ files are.

Or that I could use a confocal microscope with 3 colors EASILY, and do image analysis for pretty much anything I wanted to see.

Or…you get the point.

Was I applying for jobs that required those skills? NO.

So, they weren’t showcased in my resume. I didn’t include them in my skills list, either, not even to show off.

If asked about my scientific background in job interviews, then I did mention how I used certain techniques during my Ph.D. research, but I didn’t delve into it much.

Yeah, it was a shame to not include that stuff. But at the end of the day, it was logical.

My hiring manager and coworkers don’t care if I can demultiplex FASTQ files, make a UMAP plot or quantify the change in expression of a gene of interest.

That would fly right over their heads and wouldn’t address the medical writing job’s requirements.


Are any of the above unexpected?

If you got a job as a medical writer, did you do the same things?

Which ones do you disagree with?

Here’s my blog post where I go into detail about my resume and show the template and an example of it filled out, if you want to look at it for reference: My Ph.D. to Industry Resume, Template & Tips

Once again, I’ve never claimed to be an expert, and this is just for fun. If anything, I want you to feel motivated to do more research on these topics I blog about – not to take them literally and see my words as gospel.

Until next time!

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